The Changeling’s mirror dramaturgy: vigilance, revenge, race
Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s 1622 Jacobean revenge tragedy The Changeling depends upon secrets and upon the vigilance required both to keep them and to uncover them. Understanding the operations of vigilance in the play – which is as inwardly directed as outwardly, as is inevitable in any dramatic world imagined through a Calvinist mindset – is key to recognising what I call its ‘mirror dramaturgy’. By this I mean both the play’s internal mirroring in the close pairing of its two plots and its external mirroring, which I will outline by juxtaposing The Changeling with two contemporary plays, one by each of its collaborators, Middleton and Rowley. The first features a scene involving an actual mirror that expresses Jacobean theatre’s characteristic refusal to hide its workings from the audience’s gaze; the second, by way of a plot set at the time of the Moorish occupation of Spain, leads me to suggest that The Changeling not only socialises and genders the concept of predestination but also subliminally racialises it.
Gordon McMullan, Professor of English at King’s College London, is currently a research fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark. He is a general editor of the Arden Early Modern Drama series of editions and a general textual editor of the Norton Shakespeare, 3rd Edition. His publications include The Politics of Unease in the Plays of John Fletcher (1994), the Arden 3 edition of Henry VIII (2000), Shakespeare and the Idea of Late Writing (2007), the collaborative monograph Antipodal Shakespeare: Remembering and Forgetting in Britain, Australia and New Zealand, 1916–2016 (2018) and multiple collections of essays, including a volume on The Changeling for the Arden State of Play series, co-edited with Kelly Stage (2022). His next project will be an edition of The Changeling for Arden Early Modern Drama. Right now, though, he is writing a book about cormorants.
Mittwoch, 4. Mai 2022, 16 Uhr
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